Well, that’s more like it, huh? After dropping their season opener in the shootout to the Canucks on Friday, the Flyers had a big game on deck last night, as their old head coach Dave Hakstol and the Kraken came to town. If there was some worry that this one was going to be ugly because, well, the fates, it was quickly assuaged when the Flyers took the momentum from a big save by Carter Hart on Jordan Eberle and ran with it. They kept their foot on the gas for the the rest of the game, and cruised to a 6-1 win over their brand new rival. A tidy bit of business, not too bad at all.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
A dominant 5-on-5 effort
The Flyers had a little bit of a rough start to this one, as they spent much of the first half of the first period struggling to complete passes, and had their attempts at clean breakouts hurt as a result. Being hemmed into their own end gave the Kraken a few early chances to work with, but with a few big saved from Carter Hart, they were bailed out and given a chance to clean up and build up some momentum.
And once they had a bit of it, they were rolling well through the rest of the game. The Flyers put up little short of a dominant effort in this one, putting up an adjusted 60.98 CF% and 56.34 xGF% at 5-on-5, winning their matchup pretty handily. They were able to generate a nice bit of offense for themselves (even more on that later), but they also did well to limit the number of chances that Seattle had to work with, as they only managed 18 shots on goal and 12 scoring chances across the whole of the game at 5-on-5. It was a well rounded game from the Flyers, their offense certainly popped, but their efforts in suppressing the Kraken’s offense was just as notable. It wasn’t completely perfect, but it was a tidy enough showing.
More on that scoring
It was a very nice offensive outpouring for the Flyers, so let’s talk a bit more about that, yeah? It’s impressive in its own right how they were able to put up six goals at 5-on-5 last night, but perhaps even more impressive is how well that scoring was distributed. With goals from Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny, Joel Farabee, Derick Brassard, Ryan Ellis, and Justin Braun, each of the Flyers’ top three lines were on the ice for a goal for, and they also saw some offense chipped in from their defense (and really, with all due respect to him, you know when you’re getting goals from Braun that things are going well for you). The top two lines are really clicking, the third is moving towards finding its footing even more, and while the fourth line wasn't able to get on the board, they brought a few flashes of their own. There was a lot of good happening on the offensive front.
But even more than individual lines and pairs clicking well at the moment, what’s even more important is that whole of the team was playing well as five-man units when they were on the ice. Communication is working well, players are playing with confidence, and we saw them reaping the benefits of that. It’s an open question of whether this can be carried into what should be a tough matchup against the Bruins tomorrow, but they’ve still left us with a lot of room for optimism.
A strong night for the penalty kill
After the preseason was a bit of a mixed bag for the penalty kill, and that carried into the season opener, last night saw the Flyers stabilizing a bit and being able to put up a really strong showing on the penalty kill. The first win is that we saw them reigning things in in the discipline department, relative to what we saw on Friday, but the Flyers still had 7:40 of power play time to kill, and they were quite successful in that time. They held the Kraken off the board, and really didn't give them a whole lot to work with, as they registered just five shots and four high danger chances while on the man advantage. The Flyers were playing a more aggressive style on the penalty kill, bringing a bit more jump and direct pressure on the Kraken, and it really paid off for them. The skaters made their own lives easier, and made things easier on Hart, to boot, and here’s hoping that they’re found their formula that works and are able to stick with it.
Carter Hart comes up big
And speaking of Hart, after also having something of a mixed bag first showing of the season, he regrouped very well for this game and was a huge part of the success that they found here. We talked about it earlier, but it bears repeating that he was able to really well keep his team in the game when they were shooting themselves in the foot and struggling to execute on passes and breakout attempts. They could have easily fallen into an early hole, but Hart kept things steady while the skaters worked to get themselves back on track.
All told, he stopped 23 of the 24 shots he faced across all situations, so it wasn’t a huge workload that he was given, but it doesn't make his efforts any less impressive. His one goal given up isn’t even one we can be too fussed about, as it came off of a broken play right in front, and a puck that we would have liked to have seen cleared out by a defender, but there wasn’t too much Hart could do there. It’s all good news, as we keep repeating that he responded very well from his first showing. He didn’t get rattled, didn’t get caught in his own head, just regrouped and moved on to the next. In short, he’s back to looking like his 2019-20 self, for now at least, and that’s just about the best news we could be getting.
But, with all of our notes on strong play made, one of the biggest standouts on the night, if your twitter feed looks anything like mine, was the physicality we saw from the Flyers last night. We had hits, activity in scrums, and a couple of Very Big Fights, and the message that we were starting to see in the preseason is making itself abundantly clear—the Flyers aren't going to let themselves be pushed around anymore. The Kraken were taking some liberties last night, between trying to mix things up to spark something after they'd fallen behind, and then taking some shots at Giroux specifically, and the Flyers weren't having it. They stood up for themselves, stood up for their captain, and made it clear that they weren’t going to be bullied.
But, it’s important to note, they aren’t looking to be bullies either. Giroux talked about it after the game, that “it’s not like we want to be a tough team, we just want [to have] each others’ back. There’s five guys on the ice, and whatever happens, we stick together.” There’s skill abound on this team, that much was abundantly clear last night as well, but they’re taking that next step forward as a group, as well. The cohesiveness and team bond is showing, and it’s already making a huge difference.